The trauma our clients have experienced has affected myriad aspects of their lives, often disrupting their education, emotional development, sense of security, and increasing their risk of both mental health problems as well as detachment from the community. Many struggle finding and maintaining employment in a safe, healthy environment. These consequences are not unexpected; according to a report from the U.S. Department of Justice, 68% of victims of serious violent crime (rape, sexual assault, robbery and aggravated assault) experienced socio-emotional problems: moderate to severe distress, significant problems with work or school, significant problems with family or friends, “including more arguments than before the victimization, an inability to trust, or not feeling as close after the victimization” (Langton and Truman. “Socio-Emotional Impact of Violent Crime” Bureau of Justice Statistics, September 2014). In addition, as the University of San Francisco Trauma Center reports: “the adverse experiences affect health through diverse biological pathways, leading individuals who have experienced trauma to be more vulnerable to injury and illness are more reluctant to seek health care”(Jyoti Madhusoodanan, April 12, 2016: ucsf.edu/news). May Dugan is a safe place for individuals to seek support and work on their recovery. Our experience suggests that screening patients for this trauma and planning safety interventions is both safe and effective.
We are pleased to partner with a system already addressing the initial physical and psychological impact of trauma. The Trauma Recovery Services within The MetroHealth System in 2013 already provides “professional risk assessment and counseling, educational materials, support groups, and peer visitation services (using volunteer trauma survivors).” They have immediate contact with 2,000 trauma patients and families, and have developed the most active peer visitation program of its kind in the US. When their patients access available resources, “they have measured success in greater patient engagement and self-efficacy.”
May Dugan and MetroHealth system have robust internal supports for victims of crime. In addition to these internal resources, both agencies share an effective system of community partners, including the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center and Frontline Services. As a community team, Metro has the opportunity to provide comprehensive referrals for victims. By partnering with The MetroHealth System, a safety net hospital with a strong history of providing excellent medical services to our community. Like May Dugan, their mission is to serve individuals regardless of the ability to pay. Together, we can provide a continuity of care to secure better outcomes and lower recidivism for our most vulnerable neighbors.